Saturday, November 30, 2013

December Goals (And Nov Revisited)

Alls I can say about November is...what the fuck?

What happened? What? I- I'm so confused. I'm sitting her on the very last day of the second to last month of the year of two thousand and thirteen and I'm more than slightly confused as to how I got here from eleventh grade, let alone how I managed to not do a single fucking thing this entire month.


I don't get it!!!

You know how I'm like obsessed with filing everything in my computer away in folders? LOOK AT MY MAIN FOLDER!!!


How am I supposed to find anything?!?! Half of that stuff, I literally have no idea what it is. I'm so confused. Confounded. Bamboozeled even.

And that's not even a tiny fraction of the disaster that is my photo folders.

How did this happen?!?!

My phone is worse. There's apps all over, filling up eight screens.  Thanks Daisy. There's two hundred and forty seven pictures in my camera roll, two hundred and forty five of which are Warren's face and nose. Which isn't a big deal for normal people, but since Daisy ate my sweet huge 32gb 4S a few months ago, I am now the shamed owner of an 8gb phone.


I do not have room for two hundred and forty five pics of Warren's nostrils. I tried to put a ten minute episode of Care Bears in my phone the other day to shut her up and it wouldn't fit.

Cook five new recipes? BITCH PLEASE.

Get back to healthy eating? Eh. Sort of. Actually, I'd call that a Mostly Win. I eat pretty good on weekdays, then binge eat on the weekends. Win some lose some?

Finish the quilt? Oh, you make me giggle.

A king sized quilt is too big for a machine. That's just a fact. Obviously, factories where they manufacture king sized quilts are magical.

Accomplishing anything with Daisy as a helper is just impossible. She's too cute and fun and 'helpful' to focus.

Workout 22 times? WHAT AM I DOING WRONG WITH MY MATH?!?! Five days a week. That ended up being twenty times. So HOW did I count out 22?!?! I would have made this goal if only I'd paid attention to counting in kindergarten.  Ugh.

Read three books. This one I am actually ASHAMED of.  Like, hanging my head in horror. I plowed thru all three Silo books plus Allegiant plus half of Jack Reacher in October. And I don't know if it's normal, but after I read a REALLY good book, I'm spent. Juliette and Solo took an emotional toll on me!!! I was drained after I finished that. Then there was the train wreck that was Allegiant, then Jack Reacher was so ridiculously hyper violent... I was mentally exhausted as far as reading was concerned. I didn't want to get attached to more characters and risk losing them, not just to fictional death, but to literal death when I closed the book. So I played soduko on my phone and read all my back issues of Real Simple and EW on my iPad instead. And by 'my iPad' I of course mean 'Daisy's iPad.'

Purge the Playroom!!! HAHAHA!!! I DID THAT!! I'm so proud.

Although if I'm honest, Nick handled most of that. But whatever, it's still a check mark!!!

The only check mark.


Anyway. I was seriously not going to set any goals whatsoever in December, but that just seems silly, so I'm aiming a little lower (a little lower? Is that possible? What could be lower than my November goals?!?!) and here we go.

Does anyone else have to sing that line like Fresh Beat Band? 'Get ready, cause here we go!!'

Inspiration found here.

And there you go. I just wasted about two hours setting that all up, two hours I could have been spending finishing that Christmas quilt. Ugh.

**The 'prize' will be a text or email that says 'you guessed right you lucky lady you!!!**

Monday, November 25, 2013

Menu Plan Monday

-Monday, we had Skinnytaste's Crockpot Italian Meatballs.  This was relatively easy to throw together, but I mean, it did take some time to roll out the meatballs.  And I browned mine before I dropped them in the crockpot. I would typically have used jarred marinara (Newman's Own for the win!!) but I didn't have any. Ugh. We REALLY need to get up to the base. So I had to make it with crushed tomatoes like she says.

Anyway, it was good. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's better than the vastly easier concept of buying a bag of frozen turkey meatballs and tossing them in a crockpot with a jar of sauce, but Nick said they were WAY better, and I can't find frozen turkey meatballs here anyway, so it doesn't really matter.  It's a moo point. You know, like a cow's opinion.

-Tuesday we had these Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells. I hate to say I wasn't a fan because I love Life in the Lofthouse and even though she doesn't know me from Adam, I don't want to hurt her feelings!! But it just wasn't for me. I didn't like the texture of the chicken being shredded instead of ground, and I really didn't care for the pesto.  And once again I had to make my own fucking sauce, which is just lame. Maybe they sound good to you? I will say that this Giada recipe for turkey and artichoke stuffed shells is my go-to, and it's a LOT to live up to. I probably shouldn't even bother trying new versions of shells, but honestly, that thought never entered my mind until right this very second. Idiot.

-Wednesday we had leftovers.  Which means eggs and bacon and pancakes. And no, not grain free pancakes. Not even gluten free pancakes.  Just regular Aunt Jemima pancakes. SO GOOD.

-Thursday I wanted to make these Paleo Chipotle Meatballs, but go figure, they don't sell cans of chipotle here.  I sure wasn't going to soak them, so I didn't bother looking for dried ones, but I guess I will next time I'm around. Anyway, since that was a bust, I decided to go the anti-paleo route and whip up my Numero Uno Favorite Meal, my hack of PW's Comfort Meatballs and mashed potatoes. No, not sweet potatoes. Not mashed cauliflower. Just boiled white potatoes all mashed up with tons of butter and milk.

Stay tuned to find out how much weight I gained this week.

-Friday I wanted to try these Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps, but I couldn't get ground chicken (mince, that's what they say here) in my delivery, and I sure wasn't going to go to the actual store. Besides which, I never cook on Fridays and Saturdays so I don't know why I even planned anything. Don't they look fab though?

-Saturday we went to London and ate fair food and I had pasta not only for lunch but also for dinner. Nice. And Sunday we had steaks. But I did refrain from shoving another white potato in my face hole. And I had a salad. So that probably cancelled out like ALL the crap I ate all week.  Right?

What've ya'll been eating lately? Head over to Organizing Junkie if you need some inspiration!!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thursday's Thoughts

If I'm honest (this is a phrase Nick picked up from his British boss and I picked up from Nick, don't you love it?)- If I'm honest, there aren't very many thoughts rolling around in my head these days.  The dialogue in my mind mostly consists of man, I'm tired. I'm so hungry. I need sunlight. I'm too tired for this. I'm so hungry, but the only thing that will fill me up is a hard boiled egg and Nick won't make me one. Is the sun supposed to be out today? Oh yeah, I should use my lamp. But I'm so hungry. And man, am I tired.

That's it. Those three things are ALL I think about. Not my kids, not my chores, not creativity or photography or shopping or ANYTHING ELSE AT ALL.  Just tiredness, hunger, and crying for no reason other than I miss the sun.

Fun times over here ya'll.  FUN TIMES.

Anyway. Here's a few other things floating around, I grasped at them and forced myself into a seated position to type this out.  YOU'RE WELCOME.

 Fashion-ish. So. After months of googling 'how fat is too fat for leggins' I said fuck this and ordered a few pairs.  I ONLY wear them with dresses.  Seriously. Not even long shirts, ACTUAL dresses. I use them as tights and long johns, so get off my case.

Anyway. My second favorite pair are (are? That sounds weird, should it be is?) the ultra high waisted ones from Hue.  Now, if I'm honest (haha) these don't do much for me, but they're very comfortable. They do hold the muffin top in a little, but I was expecting more from the rave reviews over at Pinterest Told Me To. Maybe I should try these actual shaping ones instead? I don't know. I want them to go ALL THE WAY to my boobs. I should probably just start wearing one of those body suit things. Ugh.

My FAVORITE pair just go here the other day and they are FABULOUS.  So far, I've only worn them under my yoga pants because they are SKIN TIGHT and a little shiny, but I totally plan on wearing them under a dress when we go to London this weekend.  They're the flexees fat free dressing legging from Maidenform. They're ultra smooth, which I LOVE. I have a few pairs from the Slim Me line at memoi, but the seams up the sides are so thick and bulky that after a few hours it literally HURTS. Like, it makes such deep grooves in my fat calves they they're sore. BUT I have the Slim Me's in a ton of colors (I got them at zulilly last year for like two dollars each!!!) and I have two fleece lined pairs, which are fab too.

Anyway. The Maidenforms keep my wobbly bits smoothed out and under control when I wear them with my years-old yoga pants (three more pounds till I get my Lululemons!!!) and as an added bonus, I stay warm.  Win win.

Speaking of warm, MAN ALIVE is it cold!! I'm NOT cut out for winter. I basically wear a scarf all day, even inside.  Leggings, socks, yoga pants, camisole, button down, and long shirt, plus a scarf.  All day, every day.  Ugh. Going potty is exhausting.

 Health-ish. I have recently discovered Fitness Blender and I am OBSESSED.  All caps. OBSESSED.  I love him, I really love her, it's all free on youtube, they seem super down to earth and normal- I don't know. They're just awesome. Now, they aren't like personal trainers or experts or anything. Well, I just made that up, but I don' think they're 'professional' in that they went to college to be workout video guys. But so far, the moves all seem legit, they don't 'hurt' me (I mean, they make me sore, but I don't think they're dangerous or harmful) and I just love them. Did I mention how much I love them?

They offer about nine million FREE full length workouts on youtube, from ten minute stretch routines to one and a half hour high intensity interval training type things. I am easily overwhelmed (I know, you're SHOCKED to hear this) so I decided to shell out the five pounds and buy their 8 Week Fat Loss Routine. It's just a pdf file with forty days of the workouts all typed out. And the links work, if that makes sense. So when you're reading the pdf, you see Day Eleven, do such and such a video, and if you click the such and such, it takes you right from adobe reader to the website with the video. Then you can put the video in a playlist on youtube and bam, you're ready. I've added half of them to my playlist, I'm not gonna lie, it's slightly tedious, but I had seven episodes of Elementary to watch, so I'm not complaining. And now that I think about it, maybe you could just copy my playlist? Does that work? Here's the link, we'll see if it works. This is days two thru like twenty two I think.

The workouts are different than what I'm used to.  They're a lot more focused on strength training, and they're a LOT longer, since most days you do three videos. Today was like fifty four minutes, when my LONGEST long workout with Jillian Michaels was forty five. And I don't burn as many calories, because apparently standing there doing shoulder presses doesn't burn calories? But I don't know, I just LOVE it. I really do. Go try a few out, they're free!!

After watching this video below, I have jumped on the vitamins and supplements bandwagon.

(This video is sort of long, but you HAVE to fast forward to the end to watch her drink a shot of what I think was cod liver oil. It's HILARIOUS. She's SO CUTE.)

I don't even know how I came across this. That's a lie, I do. I started here at Design Mom, followed here to Traveling Mama and then googled vitamin D. I don't know why I said I didn't know. And as a side note, I know that a lot of people post links like when you click them they get money or something if you buy it? I don't know. Affliate links? These are not those. I just like to put in a LOT of links, that way if I need to remember something, I can just pull up my post and click away. And as a side note to this side note, if you have a blog and YOU post a link (affiliate or not, no judgement) please please PLEASE make sure it 'opens in a new window or tab' or whatever.  Because honestly, if it takes me off your website? Probably not going back.

So where was I? Oh, vitamins and supplements. I take advocare coreplex with iron, mostly because I have like four bottles. It's VERY gentle on my stomach (read: zero constipation) but it's slightly annoying because you have to take three pills. But that doesn't bother me. But I can see it bothering other people. I also take their omega pills, but I need to look into those and see if they're the 'right' kind of oil. Like dha? Isn't that the one that's all the rage right now? Anyway.  The advocare ones are virtually tasteless EXCEPT the last bottle I had, one (just ONE!!!) of the capsules had split in half and spilled the oil, so now EVERYTHING in my entire house (pretty much) tastes like fish. And it is GAGWORTHY.  Seriously. I use a probiotic I got from a health food store here last time I had to get on antibiotics, my doc told me to get THAT SPECIFIC one. It was forty pounds, but it kept all the antibiotic side effects (IF you know what I mean) away, so I think it was worth it.  My friend said you want to make sure to get the ones that have to be in the fridge because they're more alive that way? Does that sound legit? Who knows.

So after I found the video, I ran to tesco to buy some vitamin d. And while I was there, I stocked up on children's vitamins because we didn't have any. Yes, I never made my kids take vitamins. And no, they definitely DO NOT get enough from the food we eat. So I got them a multi, a probiotic, a D3, vitamin C, and a DHA. The DHA tastes like if you caught a fish in the ocean, squashed it up, mixed it with rotting trash, and then let it sit out for two weeks.  It's NASTY. Ava and Warren eat it because Ava is a people pleaser and Warren is a weirdo, but Daisy won't come anywhere near it, and I don't even bother with Scott.  So my question is, obviously, do any of ya'll know of any DHA that my kids might actually be able to swallow? Because these nasty ones, you're supposed to take FOUR. Lemme tell you, they ain't taking four. No way. Man they're nasty.

 Technology-ish. Okay. I love spotify. And I wish wish WISH I knew how to share a playlist here, but I don't. So you'll have to once again follow the links.  Bridgit makes the BEST playlists. Like, BEST EVER. Here's the latest, and seriously, I think it might be the best one yet. Below, my fave song from this list. SO GOOD. Anyone know what movies slash commercials this song is from? I'm OBSESSED. (Apparently the word of the day is obsessed.)

Ahh, behold the power of the google. The song has been everywhere, but most likely I heard it on Friday Night Lights. I miss that show.

Anyway. You can get to the second one (well it was my second, but she says it was her third) here, but honestly, I wasn't AS obsessed with that one. Her first-to-me one is here. It's sort of hidden, it's at the very end of the #2 paragraph. That one is better than number two, but seriously, the first one I talked about is the best.

 Life-ish. Well, my November goals are all coming up a bust. I did the math wrong (AGAIN!!!) for the workouts, so that's not happening. I quit my quilt to start a Christmas quilt, which I also will not be able to finish in time. I don't feel like cooking since it's pitch black by four thirty and I'm ready for bed WAAAAAY before six, I finished the Jack Reacher book and realized that I'm all readed out (do you get like that? I was SO invested in those AMAZING silo books, it actually took an emotional toll on me and I need to recover! FOR REAL!!!) and rather than eating healthy, we found those biscoff cookies you get on delta flights and I eat about twenty a night. I did purge the playroom though. You just can't tell.

Tonight, we're going to start planning our August 2014 drive through Europe. Yes, we're going on vacay when ALL OF EUROPE will also be going on vacay. There's just no way around it, Warren's school is truly year round and he only gets a month off.

So the main goal (er, for me) is to get to Austria to go on the Sound of Music tours. But also Northern Italy, parts of Germany, some of France...what else? I have absolutely no geography skills, I don't even know what countries are near these ones. Isn't that awful? Graduated with honors from Biloxi High! American education for the WIN!

Any ideas? Anyone done a European vacation? Anyone wanted to? Pinterest boards I could follow? Anything? Anything at all? We want to nail down houses weekend. I can't- SIMPLY CANNOT- go three weeks without a washer and dryer EVERY SINGLE DAY.

One more technology-ish item: podcasts. I know, I'm like ten years late to this party. I've heard the word (obviously) but I guess I never really knew what they were?

I need something to do while I'm working on my quilts, and I bought Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me on tape- Mindy reads it!!!- and it was fab, but expensive and I can't really keep that up. Coincidently, right around the time I was coming up to the end of that, Elise posted about a few podcasts she listens to. And as I'm sure you've noticed, I'm not just obsessed with Elise, I want to actually BE her. Have you ever met anyone so effortlessly PERFECT in all your life? I just love every single thing she does and says.  She's why I started quilting, she's why I finally took the plunge and bought some house plants, I copied her Christmas card... I could go on and on. I LOVE her. (And I do mean that I literally copied her card. So don't be surprised when you get it in the mail and it looks EXACTLY like hers. I WANT TO BE HER.)

So I somehow ended up listening to The Longest Shortest Time and I can't QUITE remember how. And I'm not lying this time.  I thought I got it from Cup of Jo, but I can't find it there.  Maybe Design Mom? YESSSSSS. Here it is. Which reminds me that I need to check out that Alec Baldwin one.

Anyway. Longest Shortest Time is just Hilary talking to these people about early parenthood. Sounds lame, I know, but it's SO GOOD. To give you an inkling of her style, one of the episodes is called "My Newborn, the Asshole." So yeah. And they're short. I don't know how to link to the podcasts, but they're easy to find in the iTunes podcast app thingie. Here's her website, which I've never actually looked around. I just want to listen to her.

Everyone also raves about This American Life, which I've only listened to once. It was good, but I got distracted by something else. And I somehow got it into my head that Hillary is married to the guy from This American Life? But surely that can't be right. Who would be married and do separate shows? Just seems weird. Can't figure it out on google.

I also like The Art of Simple but I will warn you that it is NOT for everyone. She often sounds a little condescending and better than, and I get the distinct impression that she thinks she better than me because she home schools and her house is clean. But for some reason, I like it. I like her guests I think. Who knows.

Wow. That actually ended up being a LOT of thoughts!! How about that? Do you have any thoughts? Wanna share?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

"When I Grow Up"

Ava and I went to see Matilda in London a few weeks ago.  It wasn't my fave, it wasn't as good as the book and I barely remember the movie, but it was all right, and obviously, it was the experience of the whole thing.  The little girl was amazing, and Ava liked the music, so we've been listening to it in the car.  And one of the best songs is When I Grow Up.  And we listened to it today and it really got me thinking this time.

When I grow up, I will be tall enough to reach the branches that I need to reach to climb trees you get to climb when you're grown up

And when I grow up, I will be smart enough to answer all the questions that you need to know the answers to before you're grown up.

And when I grow up, I will eat sweets everyday on the way to work and I will go to bed late every night

And I will wake up when the sun comes up and I will watch cartoons until my eyes go square and I won't care cause I'll be all grown up

When I grow up

When I grow up, When I grow up, (When I grow up)

I will be strong enough to carry all the heavy things you have to hold around with you when you're a grown up.

And when I grow up, when I grow up (when I grow up), I will be brave enough to fight
creatures that you have to fight beneath the bed each night to be a grown up

When I grow up (When I grow up) I will have treats everyday and I'll play with things that Mom pretends that Moms don't think are fun

And I will wake up (I will wake up) when the sun comes up and I will spend all day just lying in the sun and I won't burn cause I'll be all grown up 

When I grow up

When I grow up I will be brave enough to fight the creatures that you have to fight beneath the bed to be a grown up

When I grow up

Just because you find that life's not fair it doesn't mean that you just have to grin and bear it, if you always take it on the chin and wear it, nothing will change

When I grow up

Just because I find myself in this story, it doesn't mean that everything is written for me, if I think the ending is fixed or ready I might as well be saying I think that it's ok, and that's not right!

Little kids, at least kids that are typical (I mean this in the broad sense, like kids who's parents don't abuse them, kids who are loved, kids who have adults around them that they look up to)- little kids think being grown up is magical.  You know? And truly, it is.  I LOVE being a grown up.

I am CONSTANTLY telling Ava how awesome it is.  I get to swear. I get to eat candy.  Stay up late. Watch ANYTHING I want on Netflix.  The list goes on and on and ON. You name it, I could do it.

I have COMPLETE free reign of my life.  Even the things that we moan about having to do, the getting kids to school, cleaning the living room, unloading the dishwasher, all that crapola- technically I don't have to do that shit.  I could keep the kids home every now and then, or sign them in late.  I could let the house be a wreck, as long as it wasn't dangerous. We could switch to paper plates and plastic silverware. I can basically do just about anything I want.  

But kids? 

Not so much.

As part of my new Peace Project (that I haven't given much thought to at all, as per my usual) I started thinking about WHY I get so frustrated in the mornings, what it is that's setting me off.  And obviously, what's setting me off is that the kids are getting set off, mainly the boys.

And, I think, at least a small part of it has to do with this fact that whatever word means the opposite of 'complete and total free reign of my life'- that's what they have.  I tell them when to get up (although let's be honest, I've had to wake up ONE child ONCE in my eight years of parenting) and what to wear. And how to wear it. I tell them they have to eat, and give them a VERY NARROW list of options. I make them put on shoes that I picked out, zip coats that I ordered, and go sit in the seats that I assigned years and years ago in the car. I take them to school, where their teachers tell them exactly what to do and how to do it for eight hours. Then I go get them, bring them home, make them put their belongings where I want them, make them sit where I tell them, give them a snack that I've chosen...I could go on and on and on.

What would you do if someone came into your room and handed you an outfit and made you eat fill-in-the-blank for breakfast at a certain time, shoved you into the car- it would suck, no?

I dunno. Of course, I understand that they're kids, they can't just rule the roost. And Scott especially, but all kids in general, they need structure and rules and limited options. It makes him feel safe.

But I think I can understand why he gets so upset when I snap at him to BUTTON THAT DAMN TOP BUTTON AND PUT YOUR TIE ON SCOTT!!! Why Warren loses his mind when I refuse to let him eat a bag of chips for breakfast. Why Ava bursts into tears every time I holler at her to GET THOSE TOYS OFF OF YOUR BED!!! 

I mean, I would NEVER spend the day with my top button buttoned.  If I want a bag of chips for breakfast, I'd eat it. I have eaten it. I don't put toys in my bed because I'm a lot taller than Ava and my legs take up all that extra room, but I can see the appeal of having the things I want close by, and besides, all that space at the end of her bed is just useless dead space anyway, isn't it?

You'd think I have a point, but I really don't. I hope that maybe realizing WHY my kids get so bent out of shape sometimes might hopefully help me react a little more peacefully. 

And another part, reading those lyrics, another thing I hope is that I can sometimes remember the magic of being all grown up.  Yes, some of it is silly. But some of it is awesome. I can have treats every day. I can play with things that I pretend I don't think are fun. I can wake up when the sun comes up and spend all day just lying in the the sun and I won't burn because I'm all grown up (and I know about sunscreen.) Now, I'm strong enough to carry all the heavy things I have to haul around with me.

And now? I'm brave enough to fight the creatures underneath the bed. The fury, the anger, the rage- all the things stealing my peace. I can fight them.  

I can, and they can't, and really, that's the main point.  

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Five Favorites

I'm doing a Five Things I'd Like for Christmas edition of Five Favorites.  They'd probably be favorites if I had them, right? And obviously, it's not like I actually plan on receiving all or even most of these.  Because apparently I have expensive tastes.

I've wanted this clarisonic thingie FOREVER.  Why haven't I just gotten it? Who knows. Not me. I mean, it's not secret that I have terrible skin.  I'm thirty one and I still have acne for heaven's sake. And the scarce spots on my face that AREN'T covered with cystic-style straight-from-high-school acne? I've got the pitted crater type scars.  It's fun.  
So this clarisonic scrub brush thing has like seventy jillion five star reviews, every single person I know who has one (two people) rave about it, seriously, you hear NOTHING BUT GOOD THINGS about it.  So why don't I already have one? Who knows.  But I want one. Do any of ya'll have one? Which one do you have? There's three or four models on their website (I read somewhere that Amazon sells fake ones!!! Not my beloved amazon!!!) but does it matter? Aren't they basically all the same? 

So this one confused me for a while. It's called a tablet? Which is what people who don't have the iPad version of an iPad call their thingies? Like, a galaxy tablet is a samsung iPad? So you know I like to scrapbook digitally now, and I like to edit a lot of my pictures. And I like to watch tv. So I usually do my scrapping and editing on the laptop in the living room. Which means using the tiny trackpad. And even one the big computer, with the mouse, it's sometimes REALLY hard to navigate around eyes and Daisy's tiny little nose, and sometimes I like to doodle effects into the scrap pages, all that good stuff.  And I keep hearing scrappers talk about editing on their 'tablets' and 'tablets this' and 'tablets that' and I'm thinking, wow, how are they getting their iPads to do this? I can barely play spider solitaire on mine... Well, they're not. Duh. They're talking about one of these wacom things.  I've never seen one in person, but I'd imagine it's a screen like an iPad or maybe one of the old Palm Pilots, and it comes with a pen.

Instead of a mouse.

REVOLUTIONARY. You know how easy I could get into eyes and around her nose with a PEN!?!?! Mind. Blown.  So this is actually what I for real want for Christmas. Do any of ya'll use one? Because I don't know what size to get. And as far as I can tell, wacom is the only company who offers this, but surely that can't be right. So I'd love some feedback on this. 

A body pillow.  Sigh. I've been addicted to body pillows since like sixth grade.  I don't know if it's because I'm a side sleeper or because I'm fat, but I NEED a body pillow.  Just a pillow between my knees isn't enough, I need it to go all up under my chest and arm too.  
And guess what they don't use here in the UK? Body pillows. Every now and then I can find this weird V pillow thing, but it sucks.  It's a lame substitute. 
So.  Would I actually ever spend two hundred bucks on a pillow? Not a chance.  But a gal can dream, can't she?

These are the classes I want to take at Clickin' Moms. Elements of Design, and Composition and Creativity.  There's really not much else to say about them. They're extremely expensive, but for half price you can do them as a 'study along' so maybe I could do that. There's just something missing in my pictures, and I'm hopeful that maybe one of these classes would point me in the right direction? Who knows.

And since the majority of my list seems to be centred around my photography hobby, let's throw a lens in the mix for some fun. I have the nifty fifty, which I love more than some of my children, but it's REALLY tight inside since my camera is a crop.  So I'm thinking the 35 would be a nice change, I could get more in each shot, you know? And I wouldn't need the fifty anymore, so I could probably toss that onto ebay and come out not paying much for the 35 in the end.  

So that's my list.  Have you got any faves this week?  Share them over at Moxie Wife! She's so cute. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Ya'll.  Wow.  Just wow.

Do you ever read something and it like slaps you in the face? Like, you realize it's the answer to a question you didn't even know you had?

No? Just me? Whatever. You're a liar if you think that. Or you're just not a reader, I suppose...

Anyway.  Today, I read this post.  Go read it. Take your time, I'll wait.

Did you read it yet?

Right?!?! I mean, WOW, right?!?!

I flew to the big computer to comment.  And I am NOT a commenter, I like NEVER comment on blogs. Mainly because I read blogs via feedly on my phone, and commenting is a PAIN IN THE ASS on my phone with my big fat thumbs, so I don't do it. So for me to comment is a big thang.

And the more I pecked out, the more I cried.  Right?!?! I mean, she just NAILED it.

Rather than try to form a coherent thought, I'm just gonna cut and paste my comment. Consider this my post for the day. Consider these words fighting words.  I'm coming for you, Terrible Mother, Bringer of Nasty Mornings, Breaker of the Peace. It's on. In the words of the timeless Dwight Schrute: CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

"Oh. My. GOSH. I'm not usually a commenter, but at the risk of laying it out and coming across as some sort of creepo stalker- I feel like you crawled out of my iPad like that thing from the Ring (remember that girl? She came out of the tv if you watched that video?) and shook my shoulders and shouted (peacefully though, duh) "JENNIFER! I WROTE THIS POST FOR YOU!!!"

Because I think you did.

I have four little kids, at three different schools, with the youngest with me all day. My husband doesn't work crazy hours, but he leaves early and I'm stuck with them all morning alone. We don't do extracurriculars, I don't volunteer or work or even have some sort of etsy home business to run.  This is LITERALLY the calmest my life is probably ever going to be.

Yet every morning, I'm screaming and hollering.  At least one kid is crying, usually three.  I usually send them off to school hot tempered, hurt feelings-ed, mad at me, mad at each other, mad at the world.  And really, that's what I'm offering the world? These angry children? These children who are SO UPSET because I don't understand why they need to build JUST ONE MORE LEGO CASTLE when it's five minutes PAST the absolute latest possible moment we can pull out of the drive and still make it to schools on time?

These angry children come home happy (we've got great schools) and hungry and I almost always spoil it within seconds of closing the door. Nagging.  Put your things away! Do your homework!! NO LEGOS!!!
This isn't the life I signed up for.

What happened? I was supposed to half lay, half lounge on the sofa, with one of those old afghan type blankets, two or three (four?!?! Never four!!!) kids vying playfully for a spot on my lap, a fire crackling in the periphery, and I'd crack open my own old battered copy of Little House on the Prairie or one of the Narnia books, and we've read the afternoon away.

I can't think of the last time I read to my children something other than Lightning McQueen Wins the Race. I'm too busy yelling to read.  They're too busy crying and nursing hurt feelings to listen.

How did this happen? Why did this happen? How do I fix it? When will I fix it?

So yeah. Thank you.  This I'm gonna regret this, but I'm gonna admit that I want to try it. And it probably won't last. I'll probably make it twenty minutes without yelling.  Without breaking the peace.
But I've got to try.

So thank you. From the bottom of my heart.  Thankyou. "

Who's with me?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Menu Plan Monday (And a recipe for spaghetti squash with meat sauce and the ultimate whatever meat you want tacos)

Linking up with Organizing Junkie for a week's worth of recipes.  Join in!

Monday: We had spaghetti squash with meat sauce (recipe to follow).
Um, guess who seriously needs to step up her food pics?

Tuesday: I hacked a version of these ultimate pork tacos (recipe to follow for this too because I'm bored and trying to avoid wrestling that massive fucking quilt through the machine.  It's EXHAUSTING!! It actually HURTS my arms to do it! And I'm spending some quality time with my SAD lamp because I may have been a bit overly bitchy to my poor family yesterday and my bad moods are usually caused by...being in a bad mood.)

Wednesday: leftovers

Thursday: we were supposed to have my hack of comfort meatballs, but we thought we were having company so we got some sausages and steaks to grill, but then they bailed so we just had the sausages.  In case you needed the ENTIRE story.

Friday: we had the steaks.  Duh.

Saturday we DID have company and Nick did something (steamed? boiled?) with some fresh mussels he got at the Watford Market while I was running through the RIDICULOUSLY large mall (it's like four buildings!) to get to the starbucks to get a peppermint mocha but that wasn't on the menu and I was in a mood so I was too scared to ask for it special so I got an eggnog latte.  Which was all right.  But I want a peppermint mocha!! So if anyone has a recipe, please, feel free to share. Because that was a really long walk.

And since I don't eat nasty stuff, I had these decent but bland lamb and herb meatballs I picked up at tesco.  They were nothing to write home about, but it was better than having to eat mussels or cereal, so I'll call it a win.

Sunday we were supposed to have this lamb soup recipe from Iceland but I forgot to add lamb to the delivery and we spent the day in London so we ordered a pizza instead.

All right, on to the recipes.

This was pretty basic.  I started with my main gal Skinnytaste, here's her recipe.  And now here's mine.

-two spaghetti squashes OR some spaghetti
-1.5 lbs lean ground beef or turkey
-handful fresh spinach or chunk of frozen
-grated carrot (I just used one medium but you could add more without noticing)
-diced onions (I used two good sized yellows)
-crushed garlic (I used five cloves because Nick is big on garlic)
-either a jar of spaghetti sauce or the stuff you need to make your own.  I don't do that (ever) so you're on your own if that's what you want to do.

-If you're going the squash route, figure out a way to slice those suckers in half (I had a TERRIBLE time with this) and scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff.  Bake the four pieces cut side UP on a sheet at 400 for about an hour.  Let them cool, then use a fork to sort of shred slash scoop the meat out of the middle.  It comes up sort of looking like noodles.  Set that aside.

-Or just cook your spaghetti noodles in boiling water.

-A few hours before all that, start your meat sauce.  Wait until the pan is hot (I use my le crusets for meat sauce no matter what) then melt a huge chunk of butter and sauté the carrots and onions and garlic a good ten or fifteen minutes until they're soft.  Then add the spinach and wilt it.  Obviously, the fresh will wilt a lot quicker than the frozen.  And I guess the frozen is technically already wilted. Anyway. Don't forget to season all these layers of veggies with salt and pepper.

Add the beef or turkey and violently stir and beat it to break it up as it browns.  Mix it all up good if you've got kids and you're trying to hide the spinach. Salt and pepper here too.

-Drain off the fat if you've got it.

-Add the sauce, or the ingredients you need to make your own sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and SIMMER (do NOT burn the sauce or it will be nasty) for a few hours until you're ready to eat.  Obviously, the longer you let it go, the better it's going to be.

-Serve the sauce on top of the squash or the noodles.  Obviously.

Daisy had three servings of this, and she probably would have eaten more but it was gone.  The boys ate it but bitched about the squash the whole time.  Ava was indifferent, as was Nick.  I didn't care for the texture.  I'm used to serving meat sauce over shredded zucchini and carrots, so this wasn't that big a deal for me, but I can see, if I was just starting out getting rid of grains, how this might be nice.  I prefer the bite that carrot noodles provides.  And my squash seemed to have a LOT of liquid in it. And if you look at the picture, you'll probably notice all the grease from my meat sauce.  That's because I don't drain the fat. Because I'm disgusting.  What can I say, I love grease.  It tastes so GOOD.  Maybe that's why I can't lose weight?  #worthit

And now...

I started with Jamie Oliver's recipe here. My version was all kinds of jacked up, because I assumed that I had a pork shoulder in the freezer, but I didn't. I didn't have any pork at all. The only meat I had was two pounds of kabob beef.  What?!?! So that's what I used. And I did mine in the crock pot.

-pound pork belly, shoulder, maybe tenderloin (that's what I was initially going to use until I thought I had a shoulder) or even any kind of beef. You can use cheaper cuts if you're going to crock pot it. And yes, crock pot IS a verb.  Obviously.
-teaspoon fennel seeds (I eyeballed it and I'm sure I used at least triple)
-teaspoon paprika
-I also added a lot of cumin and salt and pepper.
-diced onions (I used two)
-crushed garlic (I used three cloves)
-can of beans (he says blacks but all I had was pinto)
-tomato (gross, I only used two tiny ones, but if you like tomato, you'd want to use more)
-avocado (I used just more than half of one)
-red or green chile (I used half a can of diced green chiles, those yellow ones from old el paso)
-sour cream
-sliced apple if you're using pork, I skipped it with the beef but will use it next time with pork
-chile sauce (this was too sweet for me)

Wow.  That seems like a LOT of ingredients.  But if it makes you feel better, it didn't FEEL like a lot when I was throwing it together.

-If you're a brown the meat first gal, go ahead and sear on all sides in a piping hot pan.  I myself do not do this.  I've done it a few times, but never noticed a difference, so now I don't bother.  Spray your crock pot and stick the meat in.  Maybe toss a few onions down on the bottom for it to sit on.

-I'm a water gal.  I feel like if you don't use water, the meat always burns.  So pour some water in if you want, I put in a good three or four inches.  Then add the fennel and cumin and paprika and salt and pepper.  Cook on low all day.  Or do this in a dutch oven for a few hours.  I cooked mine for almost seven hours.  It's done when you reach into the pot with a fork to pull a hunk of meat out and it all shreds up and falls apart on your fork and it's hard to get it out of the pot without tongs.  And that's the technical definition of done, just so you know.

-When it's about time for dinner, make the beans.  Drain and rinse all the salty goo off, then heat them up in a small pan.  Add the chiles and crushed garlic.  Additionally, if salsa wasn't hard to come by here, that's what I'd do, a can of black beans and a jar of salsa, heated for a good half hour.  Then mash up some of the beans and smoosh it all together so it's gooey and perfect.

-Shred up your lettuce.  Dice up that nasty tomato.  Now, I hate tomatoes, but even I have to admit they add a nice flavor to this.  Dice up the avocado, and don't skimp.  It adds the PERFECT texture to the salad.

-Plate everything up in your super cute Target serving bowls that your kids don't even notice.

-Mix up the sour cream and chile sauce.  Except don't, because it wasn't good.  Nick liked it though.  I think Jamie Oliver actually calls for greek yogurt and chile sauce, but I'm a sour cream addict.

-Make some tacos and have at it.  Or if you're not eating grains (and still not losing weight, in case you're wondering) plate it up and just eat it alone.

This was SO GOOD.  We ate ALL the meat, and Nick and I got through most of the salad and beans. Daisy ate all of hers, tortilla and all, Ava ate about half as a normal taco and half as separate components, and the boys ate theirs entirely as separate components.  Now, this might bother normal mothers, but I literally could NOT care less.  If they wanna be weirdos and eat the shell and then some beans and then some meat, whatever. I do not care.  At all.  I do wish they'd eat the salad parts though...

Okay.  There you go. Now I have to go figure out how to feed that stupid quilt through my machine.  Who's brilliant idea was it to do a king sized quilt for my VERY FIRST sewing project?!?!?

If you're looking for more inspiring inspiration, head over to Organizing Junkie for literally hundreds of ideas.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Seven Quick Takes

Seven Quick Takes is usually a link up, but I can't remember where or what day.  I'm thinking it has something to do with Camp Patton. Or something. I don't know. It's a way to do a bullet post without having to be all 'crap, I'm doing another bullet post.'

So sign me up.

1. What the hell is with everyone on Instagram apologizing for being in the Christmas spirit already? I DON'T GET IT. Someone the other day posted a pic of like the Michael Buble Christmas cd and was like "I know, it's AWFUL!!! It's SO EARLY!!! I'M SO SORRY BUT I JUST CAN'T HELP MYSELF!!!"

Um, shut your face hole.  No one cares. Get over yourself.  So you like Christmas? Just like EVERYONE ELSE? If you want to start early, start early. But for God's sake don't blow up my feed APOLOGIZING for it. This might be the dumbest thing I've ever heard.

Are you afraid of hurting Thanksgiving's feelings? Do you hate twinkle lights? Do you think Jesus is going to be pissed that you put your tree up the day after Halloween? Why, exactly, is this a problem?

I love Christmas. I love every single thing about the holidays. I love fall and I love Thanksgiving, and of COURSE I prefer burnt oranges and beiges and light browns and deep reds to the traditional red and green palate of Christmas. But COME ON. Twinkle lights? Penguins? Reindeer? Bows and those red holly berries right in the middle of those two gorgeous green pokey leaves?
And don't even get me started on Christmas music. For a gal who LOVES to turn it up and scream at the top of her lungs, there is NO better music than Christmas music. It is LITERALLY designed for screaming in the car pool line.  LITERALLY.

We put up our tree.  We let the kids decorate it and we're going to fix it later this week.  

By Friday, my entire house will be decorated, top to bottom, inside and out. The table is laid out with the Christmas linens (how fancy am I?!?!) and my dishes have been replaced with my Christmas Lenox pattern.  Just kidding, it's from Target.

But yeah. For the next two months, we will not eat a bowl of cereal or lap up a plate of eggs on anything other than festive holiday ware. I even have a full melamie (is that the word?) set for the kids from Target's day after Christmas 90% off sale.  Nikki and I got up at four for those suckers, we're damn sure not waiting until December to pull them out.

I don't have a point, other than you shouldn't be ashamed of liking Christmas.  Or worse, you shouldn't be PRETENDING to be ashamed of liking Christmas. That's obviously worse.  Wanna set your tree up the day after Halloween? Have at it.  Wanna wait till Christmas Eve? Whatever blows your skirt up. NOBODY CARES.

2. We headed to London today since we haven't been in FOREVER (like, three weeks) and London is with me- it's ALL THE CHRISTMAS THINGS EVERYWHERE. Granted, we only went to Covent Garden. But whatever. It's all done up, there's giant ornaments and tons of twinkle lights and a huge tree and a giant bush cut into Rudolph- the whole nine yards. Because London GETS ME.  London owns my heart forever. They're opening a Winter Wonderland Whatever in Hyde Park in two weeks and you'd better believe I'll be there. Plus ice skating in front of the dungeon, and I'm sure they'll do up the palace gates, and I bet Oxford and Regent streets will be all bedazzled with twinkle lights and the shop windows will be gorgeous with fake snow....Christmas rocks.  London rocks. I love everything.

3. I don't think I've recovered from Iceland yet.  I think seven days might be a tad too long for a vacation.  Maybe not a proper vacation, but we sort of travel a lot right now.  We gotta see everything in two years!! We're already almost halfway done. With the two years, not with the seeing everything.  So we basically go somewhere every single time there's a break in school.  But yeah, seven days, every two or three months? It's too much. I think five is my limit.  Nick is planning Prague so I'm in charge of planning Rome for February (until I cry and pass the buck to him) and I think I'm gonna plan for five days.

I'm just still so tired and worn out and my belly is still upset from binging for an entire week and I'm still behind on laundry and the kids are still acting like jet lagged assholes, even though the time difference was only an hour. Groan.

4. Fringe. Ohhhh, Fringe. I know I touched on it before, but MAN ALIVE do I love that show!!! And Nick likes it!! Do you know how rare it is for us to BOTH like a show? He tolerates whatever I want to watch (I have a problem.  I REALLY love tv) but he usually just sleeps through it. But he is ALL ABOUT FRINGE. We watch Walking Dead together, and we did the first five seasons of Sons of Anarchy, but Fringe is just awesome. He's not really ever into scifi, and he didn't watch the X Files (I KNOW!!!!) and I don't know. It's just SO FUN to watch with him.  A lot of times, with tv, he sort of starts to nuke things out and talk about how the math doesn't work and that would never happen, but with Fringe he just lets it ride and we enjoy the show.  Totally. We just finished season three and Peter has apparently vanished from everyone's mind, but now what? WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN?!?!? Did his baby disappear? Wouldn't the universes not be shattered since Walter wouldn't have gone over to save him? WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN?!?!

Please don't tell me. For once, I haven't looked up a SINGLE SPOILER (as a side note, the Dexter finale aired a week ahead in the states, and I didn't spoil that either, and it was TOTALLY SUCKY AND BASICALLY THE WORSE SHOW IN THE HISTORY OF THE ENTIRE WORLD, but that's neither here nor there.) JJ Abrams is the second most brilliant man alive today and I love him and every single thing he has done or will do for ever and ever amen.

5. Did you even see Super 8? I need to google that boy and see if he's done anything else.  What a great movie that was.  Seriously.  I'd put that as one of my Top Ten Movies of all Time.

6. Speaking of movies, we just watched The Way Way Back.

It wasn't as good as Super 8, but it was good.  Sort of a wanna be Perks of Being a Wallflower.  But not as good.  But it has Sam Rockwell and Ben from Ben and Kate.  What the fuck happened to Ben and Kate?!?! I loved that show.  So naturally they cancelled it.  But that dude is HILARIOUS.

Their main plug is that its from the people who did Juno and Little Miss Sunshine.  It wasn't as good as Sunshine but it was better than Juno.  I thought Juno was annoying.  Except Jennifer Garner was AMAZING.  She deserved a lot more for that roll.  Can you imagine how hard it must have been for her character? I can, because Jennifer Garner made me.  She was brilliant.

7. I'm out, I can't think of anything else to say.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Half Term Holiday in Iceland: Days Five Six and Seven

When we finally woke up from our Magnificent Whale Sighting Induced Slumber on Wednesday morning, it was... SNOWING!!!
 Now.  For the official record, I don't particularly enjoy snow.  Or rain.  Or being cold.  Or hot. Basically I don't like to be uncomfortable in any way, shape, or form.

HOWEVER. For this Mississippi girl and her South Florida husband, and her four children that have spent the majority of their short lives on tropical islands near the equator, there is something TRULY magical about snow actually falling from the sky.

I don't get sappy about it laying all over the place like a gorgeous white blanket, and I especially don't like when it gets slushy and runny and turns grey.  But watching it fall from the sky?

Count me in. I could do it for hours.  It's just WEIRD.  How does it work? Snowflakes? Get out. Water or ice. That's all that should come from the sky!!! Not perfectly formed snowflakes.

It's just cool.

So naturally, since it was snowing, we headed for the Aukureyri pool! There was a swim team practicing, with their coach all bundled up in full ski gear, and a few old people, but other than that, we had the place to ourselves.

It's just indescribable.  I can't explain what it feels like to be in a POOL, not just a hot tub, while it's literally- LITERALLY- freezing outside.  It's just weird!! But so cool.

After that, we went back to the apartment for the first nap of the vacation (I guess I'm finally starting to unclench about my Sleep Schedule- can you believe it, Mom?!?!) then we walked around Akureyri for a few hours before we hiked up to Rub23 for dinner.

I don't have pictures, but the 'city' was fun to walk around. It was only two streets, but there was snow everywhere and I found my coffee cup (I like to get one from everywhere we go, bonus points if it's not a Starbucks and TRIPLE bonus points if it was made IN that city instead of in China, win win in this instance) and the kids were being good- it was just fun.  And Rub23 is a lot fancier than what we usually do, but the kids had fun with their (nasty) sushi and my steak was good and life is just awesome.

Thursday we drove ALL the way back down to Reykjavik. It wasn't as bad as the drive up, but seriously, any five hour drive sucks.  We ate here and it was all right, nothing to write home about but kid friendly with free wifi.

Friday was our last day, so we spent it trying to explore Reykjavik.

But honestly, it was so windy and too cold.  We only lasted a few hours, and that was including an hour respite here, at what I've decided is my favorite restaurant from the vacay. Good food, free wifi, relaxed atmosphere, washers and dryers (I didn't use them) and an entire basement playroom.  Done and done.

Then it was early to bed, up at five, and flying bak to London. Well Gatwick actually.  What? Somehow when we booked the tickets we didn't get a round trip out of Heathrow? How does that even happen?

Got me. Don't let it happen to you, it REALLY sucked.

So that was our week in Iceland.  Phew. It's Wednesday night and I'm still recovering.